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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The ANN INC. Award

Area(s) of Focus

Sandra M. Swain, MD

Medical Director, Washington Cancer Institute
MedStar Washington Hospital Center
Professor of Medicine, Georgetown University
Washington, DC

Current Research

Participation in clinical trials remains low among the general population (1-3%), with recruitment of African Americans the lowest of all groups (0.5-1.5%). Gaining insight on barriers to trial enrollment of African Americans and increasing their participation will have scientific value and potentially direct benefit to patients. Dr. Swain’s team at the Washington Cancer Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center has developed and pilot tested a culturally tailored 15-minute educational video for African American cancer patients. The intervention resulted in better understanding of the trial barriers affecting these cancer patients and led to a significant increase in intent to participate in a clinical trial. Dr. Swain’s study, entitled INSPIRE-BrC (INcreaSing Participation In Research-Breast Cancer), extends their prior work by measuring whether their educational video increases participation in cancer clinical trials among African-American breast cancer patients.

Mid-Year Summary

The first three months of the project have been dedicated to planning, securing study staff and study protocol development. The INSPIRE-BrC protocol was submitted for expedited review to the oncology Institutional Review Board on January 10, 2014. It was also submitted to the local Clinical Research Committee for scientific review. Dr. Swain and her team are currently awaiting approval and look forward to moving to the implementation phase of the project.


Dr. Sandra M. Swain, FACP, is the Medical Director of the Washington Cancer Institute, of MedStar Washington Hospital Center, in Washington, DC. She is a Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University and Adjunct Professor of Medicine at F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine. She was previously the Deputy Branch Chief of the Medicine Branch in the Center for Cancer Research, at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and was a tenured Principal Investigator. She was also the Chief of the Breast Cancer Section, and Chief of the Cancer Therapeutics Branch. She obtained an undergraduate degree in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina in 1975 and a medical degree from the University of Florida in Gainesville in 1980. Dr. Swain completed her residency in internal medicine at Vanderbilt University in 1983 followed by a fellowship in Medical Oncology at the National Cancer Institute in 1986.

Dr. Swain’s current research interests include translational research to identify novel and targeted therapeutics for metastatic and inflammatory breast cancer. She has a strong interest in the development of adjuvant therapy for breast cancer and the effect of chemotherapy on ovarian function. She is the chair of three international phase III randomized studies focused on adjuvant treatment of breast cancer. She was instrumental in the approval of dexrazoxane for cardioprotection with anthracyclines for breast cancer treatment. She has published over 200 journal and review articles and has been the featured speaker at hundreds of presentations regarding breast cancer and breast health; both domestically and internationally. She has received an NIH Challenge grant to study health disparities in African Americans in clinical trials. She has also received several Susan G. Komen for the Cure grants to study health disparities. For her work, she received the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Community Global Award of Distinction in 2012.

Dr. Swain was the recipient of NCI’s Mentor of Merit Award for two years as well as the NIH’s Merit Award. She also received the Claude Jacquillat Award for Clinical Cancer Research in 2012. She is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), where she served on numerous committees including the nominating committee and as chair of that committee. For 2005-2007 she served as the chair of the education committee. She has served as a member of the ASCO Board and is currently a member of the Conquer Cancer Foundation Board. Dr. Swain is ASCO Immediate Past President for 2013-2014. She is a member of the board of directors for the MedStar Washington Hospital Center and the MedStar Washington Hospital Center Foundation. She has been an active member of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project for over 20 years and is currently on the board of directors and is the vice-chair of the breast committee. She is a member of the American Association of Cancer Research and was also a member of the Oncology Drugs Advisory Committee to the FDA from 1994-1998.